TORONTO - A sense of loathing is what makes any sports rivalry great.
Trying to quantify how much the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators dislike each other is almost impossible and that alone tells you to what extent the bad blood flows.
Three straight years of playoff battles, resulting in three straight playoff losses by the Sens, have kept indiscretions fresh in players' minds. But it didn't boil over Saturday night, save for a few costly penalties, in the Sens 2-1 win in Toronto's home opener.
| Darcy Tucker flies over Patrick Lalime. |
Graig Abel Photography
Darcy Tucker still remembers (vaguely) getting smoked from behind by Daniel Alfredsson in last year's Eastern Conference semi-final. The feisty Leaf winger broke a bone in his shoulder and lay in a heap as the Sens captain went on to score the game-winner in Game 5 of the series.
Alfredsson recently stated that he wants to put the whole thing behind him.
"I don't think there'll be any (retribution). Everything that happened in the past is in the past," said Alfredsson. "This is a new year."
Tucker wasn't available for comment after the loss but it's safe to say he hasn't put it behind him no matter what he says publicly. Evidence of that came in the form of a big hit thrown at Alfredsson late in the third period. It wasn't of the earth-shattering variety but it caught his attention.
The Leafs are a team built on emotion. That's what fueled them in the playoffs and carried them through numerous injuries last year. Emotion can come back and hurt you at times and as the NHL cracks down on obstruction, you'd better believe cooler heads will most certainly prevail more often than not.
Toronto took 12 minor penalties, including Travis Green's roughing call, which he was serving as a bad bounce helped pop the game-winner over the shoulder of Trevor Kidd late in the third. Ottawa was 2-for-10 on the powerplay.
"We did get in trouble with a lot of calls, out-of-the-play kind of calls," Mats Sundin said. "When you're playing teams with a good powerplay, you have to be disciplined."
GM/coach Pat Quinn wasn't happy with the team's inability to stay out of the box
"Too long and too many," Quinn quipped. "To think you can kill all of those penalties ... , we ended up killing ourselves." NOTES:
An infected thumb kept goalie Ed Belfour out of the lineup. Emergency callup Mikael Tellqvist was Kidd's backup. Belfour is on antibiotics and should be fine in a couple days. ... The Leafs opened the season with 96:27 of shutout hockey.